AN Ammanford schoolgirl, who took up public speaking to build her self-confidence, hopes to have the final word when she travels to London to compete in a national final on Saturday.

18-year-old Elizabeth Hinchcliffe-Phillips only started public speaking in English two years ago after conducting her education in Welsh.

“It was a last-minute decision to start because I used to get terribly nervous,” the youngster from Parc Henri told the Guardian.

“But public speaking has really boosted my confidence and I would advise other people lacking in confidence to do the same.”

Now the 18-year-old is among five finalists selected by the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (Lamda) to go head-to head in their senior level communication awards at Kensington.

“I was chosen after working my way through the reading, public speaking and verse and prose exams and gaining the gold medal standard in each,” said Elizabeth, a pupil at Amman Valley Comprehensive, before sitting her A-levels at Llanelli’s St Michael’s School.

Her increased confidence and eloquence helped gain Elizabeth a place at Oxford University and she will be taking up a position to studying maths and computer science there later this month.

St Michael’s speech teacher Davina James described her achievements as remarkable. “And all this is in what is essentially her second language,” she added.

Now Elizabeth has her sights fixed on the Lamda final in London. “I’m really looking forward to it even though I know the level of opposition will be extremely high,” she said.

“I’m just going to give it my best shot and make sure I enjoy the whole day.”